Drive Angry is the story of a vengeful father who will defy Satan himself to return from Hell to stop the man who murdered his daughter. I should say right off the bat that Drive Angry is cheesy. This movie is intended to have a pulp-fiction, grindhouse feel to it, with excessive foul language, excessive violence and surprisingly gratuitous nudity... truly a modern exploitation film in every way. Surprisingly, the film itself was fairly vibrant; I would have expected some post-processing or color-muting effect to enhance the exploitation-era ambiance. In fact, this sort of treatment is actually present in the end credits, but the movie itself was left pure. Perhaps this is because Drive Angry was originally made as a 3D movie and that any noise and artifacts would detract from the 3D effect. Also, as you would expect from a 3D movie, however, there are several scenes where things (cars, bullets, or, say, exploding parts of cars shot up by bullets...) will come flying at the screen. It loses something in translation being in 2D, but I find the 3D-gimmick to be one of the most annoying issues to be resolved prior to 3D movies becoming truly enjoyable.
Milton was not a good man, nor was he a good husband. But he was always a good father to his little girl... or he tried to be. When he got in with the wrong crowd, he left her so that she wouldn't be endangered. Sadly, the abandonment led her to an even worse crowd - a cult of Satan worshippers led by Jonah King (Billy Burke, Twilight). When she decides she is going to leave, Jonah King kills her and decides that her newborn daughter is the perfect sacrifice to bring about Armageddon. Meanwhile, Milton had paid for his life of sin, and found himself imprisoned in Hell, having to watch every bit of pain his daughter experienced since his death. Somewhere between her death and her child's upcoming demise, Milton decided it was time he set things right, so he broke out of hell in a '69 Chevy Chevelle. And, in a mix of Grindhouse, Matrix, Ghost Rider and exploitation cinema, the action ensues.
People aren't supposed to simply drive out of hell. That makes The Accountant (William Fichtner), Satan's right-hand man, look bad. So, this enigmatic, well-dressed, supernatural bounty hunter sets off to track Milton down to bring him back to Hell... along with an artifact that Milton swiped on his way out - a bad-ass looking gun known as the "God-Killer." Actually, Fichtner's performance as The Accountant steals the show; I don't know if I would want a sequel to this movie or not (Drive Angrier?), but I would love to see more done with The Accountant. This character has an other-worldly sense of smell, a (suppressed) voracious appetite for women, but seems above-it-all, easily dodging bullets and casually stepping out of the way of rolling fuel tankers without a concern in the world.
Milton chases down the cult to retrieve his granddaughter, and along the way, picks up down-on-her luck waitress Piper (Amber Heard), a kind, caring and spirited young lady who just happens to drive a '69 Charger... which, based on Milton's time "in the pen" is just about the right speed for him. They find themselves chasing the cult, while trying to stay a step ahead of various law enforcement agencies and everything builds up to a huge climactic... and, ultimately satisfying end.
This is not the best movie to star Nicholas Cage. However, it does have the requisite elements for an action film: 'splosions, hot rods, bad-ass guns, rampant nudity, excessive foul language and a less-than-perfect anti-hero who has an abundance of "cool." There's the required too-cool-to-react-to-the-explosion-behind-me moment. But there's so much more... There a sex/gunfight scene. No, not a scene that starts with sex and then turns into a firefight... that's been done to death... even Bond movies have had that. This is a scene that starts with sex, then proceeds through an all-out gunfight in the hotel room with the two conjoined en flagrante delicto until the last enemy has fallen, after which Milton stands and zips up. Why was he completely dressed while having sex with a fully nude woman? "I never take my clothes off before a gunfight." Too much. And, while the gasoline tanker is ever so cliché, Drive Angry uses a hydrogen tanker... the fuel of the future. And, in the finale, Milton tops Ghost Rider's flaming motorcycle of vengeance with Milton's flaming Charger of vengeance - although, to be fair, the car wasn't designed to be on fire... that just sort of happens in the course of the firefight.
Drive Angry is a fast-paced, over-the-top ride through fire in classic American Muscle Cars, as Cage wages war against Satanists while on the run from Satan. It might be a guilty pleasure, but all you need is this, popcorn and a chilled beverage, and you're set for the night. This isn't a "top shelf" choice, but the "top shelf" might be a nice place to keep this guilty pleasure; I suggest keeping it high enough the kids can't find it or hiding it behind your porn collection so your friends won't find out you watch this sort of stuff.